For further information on Coronavirus (COVID 19) please go to: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/

COVID 19 - Latest SRF News

28 May 2020

Suffolk works on creating safer places as lockdown measures ease

Businesses, towns and spaces in Suffolk are getting extra help to make them safer and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading as lockdown measures are eased.

Support to make this happen comes from the ‘Safer Places’ group, part of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which is made up of Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services.

The Government has announced a phased easing of rules around businesses and other properties opening, starting in June. The group is supporting businesses to meet this national guidance, allowing them to trade safely and keep their customers safe.

As well as the retail sector, councils and public services are looking at their own areas and facilities in readiness for changes in national guidelines, such as car parks. The Safer Places group will also be engaging with local organisations, communities and councillors and organisations to look at tailored solutions for their particular areas. Measures are likely to evolve as guidance changes or improvements are made.

David Collinson, the lead for the Safer Places group, said:

“The safety of our communities is the most important thing as our high streets and businesses recover.

“Ultimately, businesses are responsible to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, but through the Safer Places group, we’re doing everything we can to support them and help reduce the risk of infection.

“While, the most effective way to slow the spread of the virus, is to stay at home, we understand that people will want to visit the high street and parks, so we are supporting businesses and authorities to make these places as safe as possible.

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping each other safe. We can do this by continuing to follow the government’s instructions, such as keeping 2 metres apart from others, regularly washing our hands and limiting our use of public transport - think ahead about your hygiene.

“Suffolk has successfully slowed the spread of the virus, but we must all stick with it and keep following the guidance.”

An example of safer spaces being created, are those planned for our highways. To ensure appropriate safety measures can be put in place for communities across Suffolk, the county council, with partners has developed guidance and advice on how safe, social distancing measures can be maintained on the highway.

This includes empowering local councils and the business community to make small-scale temporary changes to enable safe, social distancing, without the need to seek consent from Suffolk County Council.

Where there is a requirement or desire for larger, more detailed changes to be made in the community, these will need to be discussed with county council.

Any of the temporary changes made during this time will be kept under review and the county council will continue to work with its partners to adapt to government guidance and review what support is needed to help the local economy.

Previous Press Releases

 

21 May 2020

Be responsible, save lives and stick with it this bank holiday weekend

Suffolk Resilience Forum is urging people to keep doing the right thing this bank holiday weekend, as the county’s #StickWithItSuffolk campaign continues.

Despite the relaxation of some of the Government restrictions, there is still a risk that the spread of coronavirus is likely to increase. This will happen if we are not responsible and fail to stay alert, especially with the temptation to take advantage of the predicted good weather.

Suffolk has been very successful in slowing the infection rate by the public staying at home, keeping two metres apart when out, not gathering in groups and washing hands regularly.

However the NHS, emergency services and public sector organisations which make up the Suffolk Resilience Forum are stressing people must stick with it and keep following these instructions if we are to continue slowing the spread of the virus and saving lives.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP at StowHealth in Stowmarket, said:

“Put simply, if more of us go outside, the greater the risk of the virus spreading. That means if people don’t follow the instructions, my colleagues and our hospitals will undoubtedly get busier, and sadly more people may die.

“But like most of us, I’m looking forward to getting some fresh air this weekend and appreciate that we don’t all want to be indoors the whole time. Being outside is good for our mental health and wellbeing.

“If you do go out, keep two metres apart and keep washing your hands. If you arrive somewhere and it looks busy, think about heading somewhere different where fewer people are.”

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Suffolk, although more slowly, which is why it is crucial that people keep following the instructions. These are:

  • Keep staying at home 
  • Keep working from home where you can
  • Keep 2 metres apart if you go out
  • Keep exercising safely
  • Keep washing your hands with soap and water
  • Keep self-isolating if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
  • Keep travelling by car, bike or walking
  • Keep staying safe at work
  • Keep shielding yourself if you’re vulnerable
  • Keep supporting local businesses
  • Keep looking out for each other

For the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) information from the government, including frequently asked questions about what we can and can’t do, go to www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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19 May 2020

Mobile testing units continue regular visits around Suffolk

The Suffolk Resilience Forum is reminding Suffolk residents that ‘pop-up’ style mobile testing units are regularly in operation around the county.

Visits to the units are for those currently showing symptoms of coronavirus and must be booked in advance.

The government announced yesterday (18 May 2020) that people can request a test for anyone over 5 years of age, who is showing coronavirus symptoms. This includes requesting a test for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms.

Coronavirus symptoms are:

  • a high temperature, or
  • a new, continuous cough, or
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

You can be tested in one of the following ways, if you are showing coronavirus symptoms:

  • Book online, or call 119, and visit a regional test centre (in Suffolk this is located at the London Road Park and Ride site at Copdock, Ipswich)
  • Book online, or call 119, and visit a mobile testing unit (latest Suffolk locations can be found at www.suffolk.gov.uk/testing)
  • Book online, or call 119, and request a home testing kit

If you are an essential worker, you can apply for priority testing:

Mobile testing units have been operational in Suffolk since April and are mobilised by the Ministry of Defence. Units regularly move around the county at multiple sites and have so far been planned for Bury St Edmunds, Eye, Haverhill, Leiston, Lowestoft and Newmarket.

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18 May 2020

Stick With It Suffolk – continue slowing the spread of coronavirus

Suffolk residents are being asked to continue their great efforts, which are successfully reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Stick With It Suffolk is a campaign launching on Monday 18 May 2020, highlighting what we must all continue doing, to keep each other safe and to defeat the virus.

Recent data* shows that around 1 in 600 people in Suffolk have tested positive for COVID-19, which compares favourably to Norfolk, Essex and the national average.

However, we are not out of the woods yet. The number is continuing to rise, although more slowly, which is why it is crucial that people keep following the instructions. These are:

  • Keep staying at home 
  • Keep working from home where you can
  • Keep 2 metres apart if you go out
  • Keep exercising safely
  • Keep washing your hands with soap and water
  • Keep self-isolating if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
  • Keep travelling by car, bike or walking
  • Keep staying safe at work
  • Keep shielding yourself if you’re vulnerable
  • Keep supporting local businesses
  • Keep looking out for each other

Stick With It Suffolk is being rolled out across the county by the Suffolk Resilience Forum, which include Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services. These local authorities and organisations are working together around the clock to keep Suffolk as safe as possible.

This is how Suffolk will successfully respond to the government’s Stay Alert, Control The Virus, Save Lives message.

People are asked to share their stories and how they are managing to stick with it, using the hashtag #StickWithItSuffolk on social media.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk Director of Public Health, said:

“On behalf of all the members of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, I’d like to say thank you to the people of Suffolk for the sacrifices they are making by following these instructions.

“But now, more than ever, it is important that we stick with it - the number of cases can very easily increase if we take our eye off the ball. This would be a backward step, with strict lockdown measures coming back into force.

“With young children of my own, I understand how difficult it is when they can’t see their family and friends, they would love to see their grandparents but I know this increases the risk to my family and Suffolk residents. We are making progress, and we will continue to do so if we Stick With It Suffolk.”

Dr Mark Shenton, Chair of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our communities for their continued support in helping our health and care system to manage this public health emergency.

“These are unprecedented times and the measures we have all taken so far are really making a difference. This is why it is so important to continue following government guidelines and keeping the two metre distance from each other.

“I am so proud of how our services are responding to this crisis and extremely heartened by the continued support that so many people are giving us by following these rules.

“Please continue to stay alert, continue to help control this virus and help us all save lives.”

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15 May 2020

Don’t suffer alone – help is available to support your mental health

 

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, help is available – that’s the message from the Suffolk Resilience Forum, ahead of Mental Health Awareness week (18 to 24 May).

Having a mental health crisis can include:

  • thinking about suicide or acting on suicidal thoughts
  • having an episode of psychosis (where you might experience or believe things that others do not)
  • doing something that could put yourself or others at risk

National and local evidence shows a drop in the number of people accessing mental health services during the coronavirus outbreak. It is important that Suffolk people know that help is available all day, every day.


The FirstResponse service, launched by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides immediate advice, support and signposting for people with mental health difficulties. If you are experiencing something that makes you feel unsafe, distressed or worried about your mental health you can now call the helpline on 0808 196 3494.

Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health in Suffolk, said:

“The main message is, don’t suffer alone – help is available. Looking after your emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health is incredibly important, and never more so than during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Access to mental health support is still available. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need to talk to someone, you can get immediate help from FirstResponse and a range of other services.”

More support is available at any time of day or night from Samaritans, who offer confidential and non-judgmental emotional support whenever you need someone to talk to. Call 116 123.

Kooth offers an online counselling and emotional wellbeing service for 11 to 18-year-olds (up to 19th birthday) in East and West Suffolk, and for 11 to 25-year-olds in Norfolk and Waveney. As well as online counselling, Kooth provides peer-to-peer support, moderated forums with other young members of the ‘Kooth community’ and a wide range of self-help materials.

Suffolk GPs and A&E services also remain open, and there are different options available for speaking to a GP including telephone, text, video call or email.

If you need urgent help, feel desperate or unsafe, you should talk to someone nearby immediately if at all possible, call 999 or visit your nearest A&E department.

The advice remains that you should not travel to A&E or your doctor’s surgery if you are experiencing any typical symptoms of coronavirus, such as a high temperature or a new continuous cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours).

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7 May 2020

Partnership working across Suffolk continues to help those in need

Vulnerable people in Suffolk continue to get the vital help and support by partners across Suffolk as we reach the end of the 7th week in lockdown.

A communities board, made up of councils, health, police and the voluntary and community sector across Suffolk, was set up at the start of the pandemic to take care of those most in need. This work includes an emergency phoneline, food banks, emergency food parcels, housing and community and volunteering support in our towns and villages.

Since the Coronavirus pandemic, the work of the Collaborative Communities Covid-19 Board* has:

  • Helped nearly 6,000 people through the Home, But Not Alone emergency phoneline. The majority of these calls are for food support and collection of medication. Other enquiries involve isolation and loneliness, finance, social care and mental health. Phone calls are answered and cases managed by staff at each district, borough or county council depending on the type of enquiry. The call team also make proactive calls and checks on residents who are on the Government’s clinically shielded list.
  • Mapped, and continue to support, more than 1,500 community groups across Suffolk who help vulnerable people. Amongst other volunteering jobs, these groups support caller requests made through Home, But Not Alone phoneline. These groups deliver thousands of tasks each week across Suffolk.
  • Had more than 1,800 willing volunteers sign up to the Tribe Volunteer App. These volunteers also help with caller requests through Home, But Not Alone, either as an individual or linked to a community group.
  • Distributed £177,500 across Suffolk’s 42 foodbanks via the Suffolk Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Community Fund.
  • Delivered 4,100kgs of food to foodbanks across Suffolk through Fareshare. This equates to 1,230 individual food parcels.
  • Found temporary homes for more than 175 people who urgently needed help because of Covid-19.
  • Distributed nearly 500 emergency food parcels to those in urgent need of food supplies.
  • Handed-out £1,802,139 grants to voluntary and community sector organisations from members of the Collaborative Communities Covid-19 Board. This includes £636, 398 from the Suffolk Community Foundation’s Emergency Fund.
  • Sent a postcard to every household in Suffolk with details of the Home, But Not Alone emergency phoneline to ensure we reach anyone in need. 

This work of the board fits into a bigger jigsaw of help and support across Suffolk. As the next phase of lockdown measures are set to be announced on Sunday by Government, the board is also looking at longer-term support. There are a number of challenges within communities including domestic abuse, on-going financial difficulties for families and the impact on charities and the work they do within communities. The board also recognises that as time goes on the needs of individuals, and the demographics of those individuals, will evolve and change. It is important that help and support across Suffolk can evolve and adapt with changing demand.

Chrissie Geeson, chair of the Board and Head of Localities and Partnerships at Suffolk County Council, said: “The work of the Board is incredibly important in ensuring that the most vulnerable people in Suffolk are looked after.

“We know that a tremendous network of neighbourhood and community groups, including town and parish councils, are working in our towns and villages to carry out tasks and errands for those who need help. This help may include food or medicine deliveries. The volunteers signed up through Tribe play a part in this huge county response.

“The role of the Board is, amongst other things, to coordinate this effort and make sure no one falls through the gaps. It is by no means designed to replace or undermine this amazing response by all of Suffolk’s community heroes.

“Partnership working is not a new concept in Suffolk.  We already had very strong working partnerships between councils, health and voluntary, community and enterprise sectors. However, this pandemic – the greatest challenge we will face – demanded a united response. It cannot be tackled by a collection of individual bodies with individual aims and objectives. It demanded a joined-up, united and resilient response.”

The Board is made up of: Community Action Suffolk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, Church of England in Suffolk, East Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, Ministry of Defence, National Probation Service – Norfolk & Suffolk, Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Suffolk Association of Local Councils, Suffolk Community Foundation, Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Voluntary Organisations Group, West Suffolk CCG, West Suffolk Council

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6 May 2020

Stay safe and commemorate VE Day responsibly in Suffolk

VE Day will be commemorated across Suffolk this Friday, just not as previously planned, with the government’s instructions requiring people to stay home and stay safe to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Suffolk Resilience Forum, comprised of the county’s NHS, emergency services and public sector organisations, is stressing the need for the public to continue abiding by the current restrictions, which include social-distancing, throughout the bank holiday weekend.

While appreciating how difficult the last few weeks have been, compliance with the government’s instructions remains essential if we are to save lives by protecting our families, our communities and the NHS.

Friday marks 75 years since VE (Victory in Europe) Day when the Second World War came to an end in Europe. It was anticipated street parties would be held across the weekend, but this will not be possible due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

However, there are many other ways to mark the occasion, with a range of resources freely available on www.ve-vjday75.gov.uk. These include bunting and posters to decorate your house and place in your windows, and recipes to follow for an authentic experience.

On behalf of the Suffolk Resilience Forum, Chris Bally said: “This weekend was originally due to be one where communities came together to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day. Sadly, we can no longer do this in the way we had envisaged before the Covid-19 emergency.

“In 1945 the country saw spontaneous celebrations and parties. In 2020 we will have to find other ways as we all have a responsibility to slow the spread of Covid-19 to help save lives and protect the NHS.

“However, we can still take time to reflect and honour the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to make VE Day possible.

“We can mark the day in many other safe ways. I’d encourage people to visit VE Day website for lots of ideas to involve the whole family.

“Whatever you do to commemorate VE Day, and to enjoy the weekend, please make sure you and your family stay safe.”

Government restrictions are still in place, meaning:

  • We must not meet in groups of more than two people
  • We must not leave our homes unless absolutely necessary
  • If we do leave home, we must maintain social distancing by keeping at least 2 metres from other people.

The Suffolk Resilience Forum is focussed on all agencies working together to keep the county safe.

For more information about the resilience forum visit www.suffolkresilience.com

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5 May 2020

Mobile testing units for Covid-19 confirmed across Suffolk

More and more locations across Suffolk are seeing visits from mobile testing units, to test eligible people for Covid-19.

Testing is a key part of the national response, with over 8,000 people already tested for Covid-19 in Suffolk, with the testing facility at Copdock being well-used.

The mobile testing units are being mobilised by the Ministry of Defence and are enabling more people to be tested across Suffolk. These are particularly useful for those who cannot easily access the testing facility at Copdock.

Confirmed locations for mobile testing units in Suffolk are:

  • Haverhill (from Monday 4 May – Wednesday 6 May, inclusive)
  • Lowestoft (from Wednesday 29 Apr onwards)
  • Newmarket (From Tuesday 5 May – Thursday 7 May, inclusive)

The Suffolk Resilience Forum, comprising of the Suffolk’s NHS, Emergency and Public Services, is currently finalising details for Eye and Leiston, with plans for further sites in the coming weeks.

People are advised to keep checking www.suffolk.gov.uk/testing for the latest locations to be announced.

Mobile testing units are also arriving in surrounding counties at locations such as Diss, Thetford and Clacton, Harwich.

To book a test at one of the centres, eligible people must submit their details, via either:

Those eligible for testing include:

  • all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (see the full list of essential workers)
  • anyone over 65 with symptoms
  • anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
  • anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above
  • NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance


Full guidance on the government’s testing programme and eligibility can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested